3. Chapter 3: Fear
Chapter 3: Fear
Legolas wandered through the wilderness in shame of what he had done – the shame as the words of Lord Elrond and even his friends ate at him from within.
He felt so alone, so cold from those words the very people he called his friends threw callously at him.
The anger ruling his soul was raging stronger and he tried to find ways to busy himself. He tried to push away the guilty need to kill some orcs in exchange for some measure of relief, and perhaps some peace so he could ride back toward his homeland.
As he went through the shadowed woods, orcs began to appear, and Legolas mindlessly hacked at them, slaughtering more and more orcs, not noticing as day became night and night returned to day. And in this manner, a week or two flew by.
Legolas was growing tired, his clothes were soaked in dirt and the orcs' filthy blood, and yet he only felt wearier as the guilt still engulfed him and gripped him deeper and deeper in its merciless grasp. He stared at his crimson sword as the scene of what happened on that day started to haunt him once again.
He rode into the night, toward the borders of his homeland, not knowing what he should be expect anymore; the reminder of what Elrond said about how ashamed his Adar must feel – that only sent shivers down his spine.
The guards soon hurried over to the palace and came to him in fear that he was hurt. He could not blame them – he was definitely not in a flattering condition.
He stopped his horse once he noticed another elf talking with his Adar. When he saw the attire upon the unfamiliar elf, his heart started beating harder and faster.
'Has Elrond decided to take it this far?' Legolas thought, his eyes locked on the scene before him.
"Ion-nin," Thranduil called distractedly, missing the hints of the hidden pain as he felt his son come, "Come over here, I wish you to meet someone."
Legolas walked his stallion at a slow pace, not daring to ride any faster toward his Adar and the uncertainty of what he would do.
When he finally dismounted from his horse and walked toward the elves, he could not find the courage to look up and meet their gaze.
"This is Estrus; he is a messenger from Imladris…" Thranduil started to say, only to notice that the color instantly drained from his son's face.
The king immediately feared for his son. He hoped that his son was feeling alright, though, looking at the crimson on the prince' clothes, he feared that his Greenleaf was hurt as well, but was keeping it all hidden.
"Are you all right, ion?" Thranduil asked with concerned.
Legolas ignored his father's question as his eyes remained locked on the messenger. Why was he here?
"What message have you brought from Imladris?" Legolas asked.
The elf stared at the prince, and found it hard to break eye contact with him. He finally replied, "The message must be given to the king alone."
At that, Legolas walked off, straight to the palace, not exchanging any words with his father or the other elves.
Thranduil wondered about his son's attitude. He wondered what had happened. He turned toward the messenger hoping to know more that might explain.
The king could feel the blood drain from his face as the harsh words from the message sent up a tremor in him. He thanked the messenger as courteously as he could and led his guards back toward the palace.
Thranduil himself hurried to Legolas' room, frowning when he saw his son's un-wiped crimson sword lie on the floor amongst his outer clothes, bow and what was left of his arrows.
The king hurried over to where his son was sitting on the bed and asked, "Are you feeling alright, my son? Are you hurt?"
Legolas still ignored his father's questions and asked instead, "What was the message about?"
Thranduil stared at his son, noticing the cold frown in his son's blue eyes and wondered where Legolas smile had gone to. Why was his son so alert and almost fearful?
"Now it is not the time, my son; rest and I will speak with you later." Thranduil replied and left the room, still not understanding what had passed between Legolas and Elrond to justify the harsh words that he had read earlier on.
Legolas noticed something in his father's eyes. He was not sure of what he saw but he thought that might have been disappointment or perhaps, his father was ashamed of him.
The prince forced himself to let it pass and tried to find some solace in his dreams but the demons did not let him go that easily, His friends' and Elrond's words still haunted him and he could no longer find any rest in sleep.
He left his room, and headed toward the exit, hoping to find some release in the garden and maybe some peace.
As he walked on, he did not even register the presence of the guards, nor the watchful eyes of Galdor, his father's best friend and guard. He was hemmed in by the ever-lingering memory and the knowledge that he was the one to be blamed for it all.
From the side, Galdor watched the prince with concern, not knowing what he was troubled with, though he knew that the eyes never lie and the depth of black darkness could be seen in the prince's steely blue eyes.
The guard took a step forward, thinking that what Legolas might need was a friend.
"Prince Legolas, is there something that I could help you with?" Galdor asked, looking at him.
"Yes, there is." Legolas replied coldly, glaring at him hard and strong.
The guard involuntarily tightened his hands on the sword he held; the glare was the last thing he had expected. He was certain that something had happened, and he hoped that the king would help rid him of whatever burdens he faced.
"What can I do to help you?" Galdor asked, trying to stay steady.
"Leave me alone!" Legolas ordered and headed toward the lines of trees. Galdor was staring at him in surprise and concern, but Legolas ignored him. He did not wish to see anyone now. The fear of what his father had wished to speak with him about, the overwhelming depth of shame had now completely overpowered his mind.
Later that day, there was still no sign of the prince, and Galdor hurried toward the palace in search of his king and friend.
Galdor found Thranduil in Legolas' room just as the king picked up a familiar blood-soaked sword from the floor.
Thranduil turned to face the guard. "Galdor, what is wrong?"
"It is your son, your Majesty. He is missing." Galdor replied.
Thranduil stared at his guard and said, "I think this sword has something to do with what happened in Imladris," he sighed, "I need you with me to search for my son. I worry greatly for him."
"I will do whatever you ask me, your Majesty."
The king thanked him, and they made arrangements to search for the missing prince.
Thranduil took along Elrond's message, pondering over it, curious to know how all this was related to his son and what caused Elrond to write those strong words. He knew that he should inquire this of his son and he hoped he would not hurt Legolas more than he probably already had.
Thranduil and Galdor mounted on their horses, heading toward the line of trees and into the shadows that soon engulfed them. Thranduil hoped that Legolas did not meet any foul creatures. Back in the room, Thranduil had seen that his son left all his weapons behind.
They rode on for hours, and finally, Thranduil halted. He thought he could feel his son's presence nearby. He dismounted from his horse and started walking intuitively, noting that Galdor followed him, alert for any unfriendly presences.
He finally saw his son curled up against the tree, seemingly not caring that he was now unprotected and defenseless. Thranduil stepped closer, and froze, his face a mask of shock. He had never seen him so vulnerable and that forced Thranduil to see how much pain his son actually might be facing.
He knelt beside him and started to coax his son from the tense posture he was in. His son's mumbled words stopped his heart.
When he recovered, Thranduil found his heart pounding and racing faster, and his eyes locked automatically upon his friend.
"Let's get him to his room, and as soon he awakes, I wish to know what happened to make my son so distant and have such great fear of me," Thranduil murmured and shook his head, "and most of all, I want to know why Elrond wrote those degrading words about my son's character."
Galdor nodded and held the prince while his king mounted, and then passed him to Thranduil while he mounted his own stallion. They rode hard back to the palace and hurriedly dismounted.
Galdor led the horses toward the stables while the king carried his son and entered the palace, heading toward the hallway to Legolas' room. He laid his son in his bed, pulled a chair over and sat beside the bed, keeping a careful watch over Legolas.
The guard joined him later, still finding it hard to believe that something could actually break the prince's spirit.
"Is he all right?" Galdor asked, his eyes never leaving the prince's form.
"I do not know, Galdor, I wish to know what eats at him; I wish that he will speak with me as before," Thranduil sighed and then he said as a decision crossed in his mind, "I shall ride to Imladris if my son will not say anything. I am certain the answers lie there."
"I will follow you to whatever end, your Majesty." Galdor reaffirmed his loyalty to his king.
"I know. Thank you."
Thranduil turned his glance back toward his son, searching for the source of the pain, but all he could see were his son's dull, emotionless eyes.
The king leant near to his son's face and whispered, "Why are you afraid to tell me anything? I will not do anything to hurt you. You are my son, my only heir and I love you. What is eating at you so much to make my heart ache this greatly?"